St. Louis Cardinals Dodge A Bullet With Yadier Molina

By Thom Tsang

Consider the crisis averted … for now.

The St. Louis Cardinals may have had enough cause to celebrate on Sunday as they won their third straight to complete a series sweep against the lowly Miami Marlins, but I think it’d be fair to say that the best news to come out of the weekend for the team was about the health of their catcher, Yadier Molina.

After suffering a scare over the weekend over his ailing knee, an MRI has revealed that the soreness the veteran had been experiencing was not caused by structural damage; better yet, the backstop aims to be back in the lineup on Tuesday after just a few days of rest.

The team won’t be so bold as to make these types of proclamations, of course, and with the All-Star break coming up, the possibility still exists that St. Louis could just choose to play it safe and place Molina on the DL so that he can be fully rested and ready to go for the stretch run, instead of taking the field with an increased risk of aggravating the inflammation in his knee.

After all, the fact that the 30-year old was just named to his fifth straight Midsummer Classic only scratches the surface on just how devastating an extended loss of his services would be for the redbirds.

In fact, you might even call it the Cardinals’ Achilles’ heel. Despite being stacked in the farm and in most areas of the major league lineup, one area that the team does not have a whole lot of depth in is behind the plate. To be fair, it would always be impossible to replace Yadi’s .346/.388/.490 triple-slash and his nearly unparalleled defense, but Tony Cruz‘s .429 OPS and -0.2 fWAR would represent quite the cliff.

And Ty Wiggington? Well, let’s just say the team really wouldn’t want to go there.

That’s not even considering that fact that Molina also brings irreplaceable intangibles as one of the team’s leaders, and you can see why St. Louis might want to take the conservative route on his latest injury.

Then again, as they’re in a neck-and-neck race with the Pittsburgh Pirates at the top of the NL Central, maybe that’ not something they can really afford either …

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